From 1872 to 1874, Russia built on the Black Sea one of the strangest-looking warships the world had ever seen. Andrei Alexandrovich Popov, the naval officer responsible for the design, wanted an ironclad monitor, which was a common naval design concept.
But Popov built one had a circular hull. The Novgorod weighed 2,490 tons and had a diameter of 101 feet. It carried 2 12-inch guns that retracted into an armored turret. The guns sat on a turntable that could move 35 degrees in either direction. The ship had 6 engines, each of which powered 1 propeller.
Russia followed up on the design by building a larger version from 1874-1877. After testing the Novgorod’s seaworthiness, Popov decided that the second ship should be bigger. So the 3,550-ton Vice-Admiral Popov had a diameter of 120 feet.
Popov’s ships had a rare design premise—and for good reason. They often floundered even in calm water and rivers, let alone the open sea. Worse, when idling, Novogord and Popov tended to spin in circles. The Czar, however, was fond of the design and ordered the construction of the Livadia, a circular royal yacht.
Nonetheless, both warships performed adequately during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878) in which Russia bested its longtime enemy. The Novgorod and the Popov served in Russia’s naval forces on the Danube River (then a heavily militarized body of water) and were in use until 1903. They were scrapped in 1912.
Via Neatorama for the full article.